Georgetown, Guyana – (September 15, 2015) Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, who has responsibility for the Natural Resources and the Environment sector, yesterday met with a delegation from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) separately, to discuss the recently released Mining Report which was produced by the Commission of Inquiry mandated to investigate mining accidents.
Minister Trotman first met with the delegation from the GGMC, which included Acting Commissioner Newell Dennison, Legal Adviser, Kara Duff, Administrative Manager, Ruth Howard, Manager of Mines, Derek Babb, Assistant Commissioner (Finance), George Scotland, Senior Mining Engineer, Carlos Todd. Minister Trotman’s delegation included Permanent Secretary, Joslyn McKenzie, Advisor to the Minister, Clayton Hall, Legal Technical Officers, Tamara Khan and Joanna Homer, Euileen Watson, Technical Mining Officer and Technical Assistant, Teresa Gaime.
The meeting was held at the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment’s boardroom on Brickdam.
It was facilitated with the aim of giving the GGMC an opportunity to present its response to the recommendations, which were made in the Commission of Inquiry’s Mining Report into mining accidents.
The COI, which was headed by former Commissioner of the GGMC, Dr. Grantley Waldron, revealed that 25 deaths have been recorded in 16 accidents within the past 12 months; 75 per cent of which were due to the collapse of mining pits.
Among the findings, was that the principal cause of pit failure accidents was the neglect of safe mining practices. In addition there was evidence that shortcuts were being taken in an effort to raise production. The COI was set up and mandated to investigate mining deaths by President David Granger after a mining pit at Mowasi, Region 7 collapsed on May 17, killing10 miners, in what has been described as the worst accident of its kind to date.
It has also been noted in the report that from 2010 to 2015, a total of 62 miners, particularly young men, have died in the industry. The COI also found that there exists, a laidback culture to safety and as such, clear rules must be applied and enforced.
A draft plan of action was presented by acting Commissioner of the GGMC, Newell Dennison and included strategies for Occupational Health and Safety. In addition it includes plans for collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection, improvement at the technical levels, continuous and systematic training, enhancement of education and instituting a certification requirement for the General Managers of the mining operations, and public and miners’ education.
Minister Trotman told the delegation that the meeting was not called to lay blame at any one agency or party but to collectively solve a crisis, which is of utmost concern to the President and the Government of Guyana.
He told the GGMC delegation that while it is virtually impossible for accidents and mishaps to be eradicated, there must be no excuses for the current number of accidents and deaths and these must be brought to a minimum.
He acknowledged that the work to be done would require additional resources to be given to the GGMC and as such, he will be looking to increase their budget allocation.
He also committed to exploring the setting up of a Court, which will deal only with mining related matters so that these cases can be expedited, saving the GGMC valuable time and resources. He however highlighted the importance of GGMC utilizing other forms of dispute resolution so as to ensure the swiftest protection of the rights of all parties involved.
Immediately after this meeting, Minister Trotman met with the new executive members of the GGDMA at their office to discuss matters emanating from the Report as well as other matters, which were of concern to the representative body.
That meeting was attended by newly elected President of the GGDMA, Terrence Adams, immediate past President, Patrick Harding, Colin Sparman, who served on the Commission of Inquiry, Edward and Hilbert Shields, Andron Alphonso, Azeem Baksh, Charles Da Silva, Conrad St, Romain and William Woolford.
There, he noted that the number of deaths, which have been recorded, is alarming and must not be allowed to persist. In this regard, he said that the association and the miners must become involved since a collective and a proactive approach must be taken.
The Association has given its promise to Minister Trotman to work hand in hand with the Government of Guyana to ensure that the recommendations, which were made in the COI Mining Report, are implemented for a better mining sector.
An agreement was also reached to have bi-monthly meetings between the Minister and GGDMA, and a combined meeting between all parties, including the GGMC, is planned for the new week.